I thought of that little episode when I found the following verse: Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below, Job 40:12,13. I think Job means that God has no regard for the arrogant, that death will be their ultimate end, a place in the dust from whence they came.
God has special anger for those who do not rely on him. He reminded the Israelites that everything they had came from him, not from their own hard work or from their own merit.
"The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. Deut 28:7-14. I know that was lengthy, but do you get the point? Everything the Israelites had came from God. It was when they forgot this, when they turned to those other gods, that they had their biggest failure. We, the Israel of God today (Gal 6:16), need to beware lest God hide us in the dust just like he did those people.
I know we have trouble relying on God when we act like a financial setback is the end of the world, when we fail to pray because the doctor says there is no hope, even when we fail to pray for rain because the forecast is dry. Just like Israel, we have taken on new gods—modern medicine, financial prognosticators, retirement plans, armies, and weapons. God can change anything in the blink of an eye. Do we believe it, or has our religion become a bit too reasonable and logical?
I wonder what Gideon would have thought of us, a man who beat an army “without number” with 300 weaponless men. I wonder what the apostles would say to us, 12 relatively young, poor men who spread the gospel to an entire world. Do we share the same God they do, or do we rely upon another, weaker god, maybe even ourselves?
When Ezra returned to Jerusalem with his little band, he refused the king’s offer of an armed guard. Why? For I was ashamed to ask the king for a band of soldiers and horsemen to protect us against the enemy on our way, since we had told the king, "The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him." So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty, Ezra 8:22,23. Ezra understood that relying on something besides God put the lie to his faith, not only to God, but in the eyes of the world as well.
What are you relying on this morning? Would your neighbors know that you depend upon God for everything, or would God turn on the fan, burying you in the ensuing dust cloud with the rest of the idolaters in the world?
Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." Jer 17:5-8